Thursday, 18 July 2013

Great iPad activities for 5 year Olds and Flu Days.

It's only the third day back at school after two blissful weeks of school holidays and already we are all pooped and counting the days until the term ends :-(

I miss the lazy mornings, the cuddles throughout the day, the random pieces of art we created and going out in the brisk winter sun to explore and run and climb.

Even though we were all hit by a particularly nasty bug we still found plenty of cheap and easy-going ways to have fun inside on flu days. When it got particularly bad we'd all snuggle up under a blanket and play together on the iPad.

So my 5 year old, 4 year old and I have picked out our top iPad activities to share with you. Most of these apps are for you to use together with maybe one or two that might keep them entertained by themselves for a wee bit while you whip up your favourite flu-busting food for them!

So, with apologies in not being able to figure out how to link to the apps, in no particular order, our current iPad faves are:


1) Hidden Object Games. I haven't found any really good ones specifically aimed at smaller kids, but if you are prepared to sit out and read the items that they need to find then these three proved great fun.

Lost Souls : Enchanted Paintings (rating 4+)

Warning: My four year old found the opening sequence a bit scary, so just 'skip' if you're concerned since it has no impact on playing the game. High quality images and lots of mini puzzles engaged both my kids for hours (playing together with me). We haven't finished it yet but my son likes to sit and play it with me for 15 minutes after his sister goes to bed!


The Tiny Bang Story (rating 4+)

Beautifully designed this is more of a puzzler game than a hidden object game and because it uses images rather than the written word to show you what you need to find or do then the kids can take the lead and play independently if they want to. My five year old boy loves this game immensely but it doesn't engage my four year old girl at all, even if we are playing together.

Drawn : The Painted Tower (rating 4+)
Probably my son's favourite. Lots of places to explore and things to find. We actually played this last Christmas as a treat. Doesn't have as much replay-ability as The Tiny Bang Story but a good length, plenty to do and looks great.
2) Toca Builders (rating 4+). Super duper top fun for everyone! A building game in the vein of Mine Craft design especially for kids. This has 5 little characters, each with it's own ability to place blocks, destroy blocks, paint blocks and so on. Everyone in the family loves this one. When the wee ones are in bed my other half secretly whips it out and builds pyramids, rivers and boats. Toca Boca create amazing apps for kids and they have excelled themselves with this one. Kids picked it up straight away and started building. A 10/10 app if there ever was one! Here's some screenshots of my boys' creations:
3) Make your own comics. This one requires a lot of cooperation between your kids and plenty of your time but if everyone is in the mood there is a lot of creative fun to be had. The app we've been using is Strip Designer by Vivid Apps, it's rated 9+ but not sure why. There's nothing I would consider inappropriate for younger kids although the controls are too tricky for them to use without your help.

Basically you create a page with one of the supplied templates and then fill each cell with a photo from your camera roll or you can snap a shot directly from the app or you can doodle your own drawing directly into the cell from the app itself. You can then add speech and thought bubbles, text boxes and action stickers any where on the page. The cell sizes and positions are all adjustable as are the contents of the cells. You can even rotate photos within the cell if you fancy it.

Here's a sample of one we made early on with each of us taking a turn to draw a picture:

Take a look at my previous post for a better idea of what can be done with this app.

We've got a current work in progress that the kids are having a whale of a time with. We take Bob the Jedi Dog (a cuddly toy the kids got me for my birthday) out where ever we go and I let the kids loose with Bob and my camera to take pictures of Bob doing different things in different places. They are under strict instructions to keep both the camera and Bob safe and clean and so far they have been excellent in doing both! When we have a few interesting shots we are going to make a comic about Bob's exploits. I'll keep you posted!


4) Last but not least, make your own stop motion movies. This activity can have hilarious results. We've been using Stop Motion Studio by Cateater LLC (rating 4+) and yes, we bought all the extras. Cost around $5.50AUD at time of going to press.

The controls can be a bit tricky and not obvious but once you've set it up all the kids need to do is press the button to take a picture, move the object they're using a wee bit and then take another piccie. A bit of restraint is required on their part while they wait for the app to process the piccie before they take the next one. Once they are happy with their film you can add music, sound effects and opening and ending credits. In theory you can also add drawn on effects and do something with a green screen but I found these functions to be a bit glitchy and processor intensive so I gave up on them. Somehow every movie my son made ended up with a butt shot (fully clothed of course) - what is it about boys and their bums!?!

So here are a couple of short films my kids made starting with attack of the dinosaur by my 4 year old (hopefully this works, I've not embedded video before):


Hope this gives you some different ideas for flu days. Keep well xxx


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